Conceptualizing CSR as innovative adoption by MNCs from emerging Asian economies

Publication Name

Thunderbird International Business Review


Two frequently researched fundamental factors in the recent business arena are corporate governance and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Though the earlier is globalized in various aspects, the latter is still traditionally identified as a Western practice for corporations. This research paper argues that Multi-national Corporations (MNCs) from emerging economies contribute to their parent country's business dynamics including CSR through “reverse knowledge innovation.” To some extent, CSR is prioritized and implemented in these emerging economies, as their MNCs adopt and diffuse CSR practices domestically through reverse knowledge flows. Based on 10 economies from Asia in terms of CSR adoption, we find that CSR is largely considered a Western business innovation among the emerging economies and their home-grown multinationals are the main vehicle of transfer in this case. This study identifies that there are three different levels of CSR adoption depending on a country's phase of economic development: Luxury, diffusion, and institutionalized. The study thus contributes in terms of a multi-level theory by highlighting a source of CSR variation at the national level in the domain of Asian emerging economies.

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